Wayne County Commission Hears Plan to Reopen Schools

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   The Wayne County Board of Commissioners met in regular session on Monday, July 20th, 2020 in the commission meeting room at the Wayne County Courthouse, with County Executive Jim Mangubat presiding over the meeting. Commissioners in attendance were Herbert Brewer, Tom Mathis, Tim Powell, Phillip Casteel, Vickie Petty, Sherrie Powers, David Martin, Tim Prater, Joe Hall, John McDonald, Mary Lauren Garner, Kathryn Staggs, and Rickey Kelley. Also present were County Clerk Stan Horton and County Attorney Andy Yarbrough. Commissioner Stephen Pevahouse was absent.

   Commissioner Kelley made a motion to approve the commission minutes from the previous meeting as presented. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Prater and was passed unanimously.

   Commissioner Kelley made a motion to approve the various committee minutes as presented. Commissioner Staggs seconded the motion, and the committee minutes were approved.

   County Executive Mangubat then addressed some items of old business. He reminded the commission that Lincoln Brass would be leaving in April of 2021, and said that he has been working with State Representative David Byrd and the ECD on pursuing other businesses that might be interested in the building.

   Mr. Mangubat then said that he has spoken with Jerry Hollis at Hassell and Hughes Lumber Company, and it appears that he still has interest in purchasing the Angelica building, although he has not yet made a formal offer.

   Other items of old business addressed by the County Executive included:

-no updates were available on the proposed Agriculture Center;

-Mr. Greer with the Comptroller’s Office is working on setting up meetings with each of the cities in the county concerning water topics;

-hazard pay for county employees is supposed to be in the county’s bank account by July 31st.

   Commissioner Kelley made a motion to approve the fiscal strength confirmation letter that is required annually for the 3-Star Program. Commissioner Prater seconded the motion, and it was unanimously approved.

   The only item of new business on the agenda was the presentation of the proposed 2020-2021 budget. Before the vote on the budget, Commissioner McDonald commented that the budget proposal is not perfect, but that it needed to pass at this time with the understanding that it can be amended later if and when necessary. Commissioner Casteel made a motion to approve the proposed budget as presented with amendments to be made as needed. Commissioner Mathis seconded the motion, and the motion was passed on roll call vote with Commissioners Casteel, Mathis, Brewer, Prater, McDonald, Powell, Petty, Martin, Hall, and Staggs voting yes, and Commissioners Garner, Powers, and Kelley voting no. The Budget Appropriation Resolution will be addressed in special session on Thursday, July 30th at 6:00 p.m.

   Department reports were next on the agenda. Sheriff Shane Fisher came before the commission and first requested prayers for BJ Eaton, his Administrative Assistant, who was at the time battling COVID-19. Due to BJ’s absence, the Sheriff was unable to provide exact statistics from his department, but said that the numbers had been consistent with previous months.

   Director of Schools Marlon Davis addressed the commission next, stating that schools are scheduled to reopen in Wayne County on August 12th. He said that the reopening plan and parent guide are available on the school system’s website at waynetn.net. Commissioner Powell asked several questions concerning the reopening of schools, including:

Q: If a teacher tests positive for COVID-19, do their students have to be quarantined?

A: The guidelines for this take into consideration “close contact,” which is considered to be students and teachers being within six feet of one another for ten minutes or longer.

Q: Will the truancy and attendance policies be the same?

A: The policies for attendance and truancy will remain the same as in the past. Parents of children with fever and symptoms of sickness have always been encouraged to keep their children home from school, but that is obviously now more important than ever.

Q: Will masks be required at school?

A: Not until or unless certain “trigger points,” such as a significant rise in cases, are reached.

Q: Is there enough staff to keep up will all the cleaning and disinfecting?

A: No additional staff has been hired, but there are plenty of cleaning supplies, including new disinfectant foggers, on hand at all locations.

Q: How will school sports be affected?

A: All school sports will more than likely be affected in some way. (Note: TSSAA had not yet issued new guidelines at the time of the meeting)

   Solid Waste Director Robert Hayes next came before the commission to address the motion made in the Solid Waste Committee meeting to stop taking brush, bulk non-compactable State Penal Institution food waste, and construction/demolition material. The motion also stated that if a private collection company brings a load containing tires to the Wayne County Transfer Station, they will be charged a tire fee. If a collection company brings a mixed load to the station containing household refuse mixed with construction and demolition materials, they will be charged 10% above Wayne County’s cost for the entire load. If the contents of an open-top container, compactor box, individual’s personal refuse, or garbage truck contains non-compactable items as those mentioned above and goes directly to a landfill or another transfer station, Wayne County will not pay the disposal cost. In addition, the motion stated that the Wayne County Solid Waste facility will close on all holidays observed by the Wayne County Courthouse. After some discussion, Commissioner Kelley made a motion stating all of the above to be approved by the full commission. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Garner, and passed on roll call vote with all commissioners voting yes, with the exception of Commissioner Powell who voted no.

   Commissioner Joe Hall, MD, who is also the Wayne County Medical Examiner, then presented his resignation as Medical Examiner for the County. Dr. Hall expressed that the position has become much more complicated over the years, and he felt that it was time for him to give it up. Resignations were also presented from Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Harish Veeramachaneni and Medical Investigators Roger Pitts and James Wilson.

   Road Superintendent Chuck Moser was next to come before the commission. He initially turned the podium over to members of the Shady Oak community, who expressed their concerns about road conditions in the Shady Oak subdivision. Moser went on to explain to the citizens that he operates his department solely on gas tax revenue and $20 of the $60 wheel tax revenue. He said that he is committed to making improvements to roads in the Shady Oak community as soon as weather permits and money is available.

   County Executive Mangubat then told the commission that engineer Braden Hinson had been to the Franklin Cole property to evaluate the flooding issue, and will be drawing up a plan to present to the commission regarding what needs to be done to address the situation and to make needed repairs.

   With no further business to come before the commission, Commissioner Powers made a motion to adjourn. Commissioner Kelley seconded the motion, and the meeting was adjourned.

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